Posts Tagged ‘City Art Gallery’

A Trip to a Birthday Party in Columbia, SC, for Laura Spong

February 21, 2016

Like I’ve said in the past, every once in a while the planets alien and a window opens where both Linda, my better half, and I can attend an art event together. The Birthday Party celebration that if ART Gallery and Vista Studios/Gallery 80808 in Columbia, SC, were having for Laura Spong, on Feb. 18, 2016, was one of these occasions. Both galleries are presenting the exhibit, “LAURA SPONG AT 90: Six Decades In Painting,” on view from Feb. 4 – 29, 2016.

These exhibitions celebrate the career of one of South Carolina’s most prominent painters, Columbia artist Laura Spong. Spong turned 90 in February. The exhibitions present some 120 paintings from six decades of Spong’s production, from the mid-1950s until 2016. You can read about the exhibits and a few essays about Laura Spong on Pages 15 & 16 of our Feb. 2016 issue of “Carolina Arts”, which can be downloaded at (

The Birthday Gal

It also happens to be 3rd Thursday in the Vista where galleries will be open and showing lots of fine art. But our main reason for going was to pay our respects to Laura Spong.

Back in the day when I was delivering copies of a printed version of “South Carolina Arts”, our publication before our current version, “Carolina Arts”, when I usually got to Vista Studios in Columbia – if the studios were open, most likely the only person there early in the morning would be Laura Spong working in her studio. So, once a month we would have a little conversation about what was going on in Columbia and other aspects of the visual arts. Now that I’m not traveling every month I really miss those talks.

Both shows are full of amazing work. The Birthday gal doesn’t look a day over 60, but the work is the proof of those 60 years of painting. She’s the best looking 90 year old I know. And, at that age, Spong is not slowing down – just check out all the work she did just last year at ifART Gallery. It’s all there until the end of the month. If you’re a 30 year old budding artists, go take a look and see what your career “could” look like – if you keep at it that long.




I’m working against the clock here, so I’m making this short and you need to get on the stick and go see these shows. Both galleries will always have works of her’s to see, but not like this collection of so many showing her work over 60 years.

I took some photos of some works I would have liked to take home, but after all I own an arts publication. But that doesn’t mean I can’t dream. I also took some photos of the way the gallery looked and the crowd there that evening.

There was also a nice exhibition catalog produced by Wim Roefs of ifART Gallery, with essays by Mark Flowers and Wim Roefs, including lots of color images of Larua Spong’s works.

“Never, Never”, by Laura Spong, 2012-15, oil on canvas, 12 x 12 in. on view at Vista Studios

“SR III”, by Laura Spong, 2015, oil on canvas, 12 x 12 in. on view at Vista Studios

“If You Don’t Know What You’re Looking For, You Can’t Find It”, by Laura Spong, 2015, oil on canvas, 60 x 48 in. on view at ifART Gallery

“Explosive Reds”, by Laura Spong, 2015, oil on canvas, 36 x 48 in. on view at ifART Gallery



As I mentioned, Feb. 18, was the 3rd Thursday of the month, which means it’s also Third Thursday in the Vista, where galleries and art spaces stay open later to show off art for people who can’t come by during regular hours.

We started at Vista Studios and then went over to ifART Gallery to see the other half of Laura Spong’s show, but we had the gallery to ourselves while we were there. There were lots of folks walking around the Vista, but it seemed not many knew about the art walk or they weren’t interested. We went over to City Art Gallery and as we got to the door Randy Hannah was just closing up. They had already had a big reception for their current show. Hannah let me in for a quick look – a private viewing. While he was locking the door another couple came to see the exhibit. As we were walking off it looked as if he was going to let them in too. For all I know that routine might have gone on all night.

We returned to Vista Studios to say our good-byes and asked a few folks there how Third Thursday in the Vista was going and it seemed not well. We were there for Laura Spong, so I didn’t notice at first that not many of Vista Studio’s artists were there with open studios. It’s going to be hard to sustain a monthly event if people are not following through. But, then I don’t blame folks who have worked all day for going home when the public doesn’t show up. But, all those who show up to a closed door, don’t have much reason to come back. I also have to add that the Vista Guild, an organization whose mission is to promote the Vista does a poor job on promotion. Galleries are paying dues and public funding is going to the group, but not much results can be claimed except that all the development in the Vista is bringing in folks naturally.

On the way out of town we stopped by One Eared Cow Glass. If we’re in Columbia, unless they are closed – we stop by One Eared Cow Glass. There were a good number of cars there and cars at Lewis + Clark, but when we walked into the gallery, no one was there – it was no surprise that everyone was back in the studio watching the Cowboys work – that’s Tom Lockart and Mark Woodham. But to our surprise something different was going on this evening. The Cowboys figured it was better to teach a glassblowing class during 3rd Thursday in the Vista – instead of waiting for folks to stroll in. And, sure enough, all while we were there watching this class – no one else came in for 3rd Thursday in the Vista.




I was very jealous of these folks getting a shot at doing the glassblowing dance. They were making their own glass balls – from start to finish. If like me you’re thinking – I wanna do that – get in line. There is a waiting list to get in one of these classes.

But, if you’re going to participate in 3rd Thursday in the Vista and don’t want to sit around waiting for folks to show up – why not teach a class and people if they show up can still have access to the gallery and watch glass objects made right before their eyes. Smart – very smart.

Frankly, I think the visual art community has gone a little too far when it comes to art walks, art strolls, or art whatever. The Vista used to have just two art walks during the year, which saw huge crowds attend, but now that several are going on every month – they’re not so special anymore. And, I’m not sure gallery owners need more reasons to provide the public with food, drink, and entertainment in the hopes that someone will buy some art.

Folks – art walks are for looking at art – not for free wine and food. Go see Laura Spong’s exhibits – she’s been waiting 60 years for you to come see her work and take one home to enjoy for another 60 years.

P.S. I want to mention that on the drive up and back to Bonneau on the Lake, we listened to Don Henley’s CD “Cass County” – which I recommend to anyone. At some point Linda said it was kind of country sounding and I explained that Henley was a good old boy from Texas and the Eagles were known for county rock. So what you get with “Cass County” is a country sound (a little slower than the Eagles’ sound) but still the cutting words you’ve come to know from Don Henley. And with the help of a lot of other country stars like Mick Jagger and Stevie Nicks. Of course there’s your Vince Gill, Alison Krauss, Martina McBride, Trisha Yearwood, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton and more.

It was two hours to Columbia, three hours there, and two hours back home. What better way to spend seven hours – while a lot of folks just watched TV.


City Art Gallery in Columbia, SC, Features Works by USC Advanced Photography Students – Apr. 7 – 11, 2015

April 6, 2015


The University of South Carolina’s School of Visual Art and Design (SVAD) is pleased to announce “You Are Here”, the 2015 USC Advanced Photography Student Show, at City Art Gallery in Columbia, SC. “You Are Here” will be on display from Apr. 7 – 11, 2015,  with an reception on Thursday, Apr. 9, from 6 to 8pm.

The show features recent work from eight student artists: Robert Agullo, Elle Olivia Andersen, Julia Bennett, Haley Durham, Carly Kimpland, Catherine Hill Hyman, Wesley Peterson, and Vicki Wilson.

City Art Gallery is located at 1224 Lincoln Street in Columbia, SC. Hours of Operation are Monday – Thursday, 10am to 6pm,  Friday 10am to 5pm, and Saturday 11am to 3pm.

For more information, please visit (, or contact City Art at 803/252-3613.

A Recent Trip to Columbia, SC, To See Exhibits by Some of SC’s Most Talented Female Artists

September 29, 2014

Editor’s Note: Sorry there is hardly any notice of the Vista Studios show, we just ran out of time and had to work on the Oct. issue. It was in our Sept. issue and I made several social media posts.

I made a quick trip to Columbia, SC, about a week ago to see some fantastic works by six talented woman before it was too late. Like the white rabbit in “Alice in Wonderland” – I’m always running late, but here’s a warning so you won’t miss out. Go see these shows – some right away before they end. (Offered in order of time running out.) Vista Studios, in Columbia’s Vista area is presenting “Operatic Threads”, a group exhibition, including paintings by Tish Lowe in the Main Gallery and “Threads: Gathering My Thoughts”, a collaborative installation by fiber artist Susan Lenz and graffiti artist Michael Krajewski, on view in the Atrium. Both exhibits will be on view through Sept. 30, 2014.


In the main gallery at Vista Studios was an exhibit of classical oil paintings by Tish Lowe (classical Italian style). When I see paintings like this it always reminds me of trips to major Midwestern art museums. Except for the setting, you feel like your looking at works by old masters. I’m sure to a lot of younger folks they feel this style is “oh so old”, but there is life in these works that you don’t often see in more contemporary works. And by contemporary I mean works being made by younger artists filtered through today’s art departments at universities and colleges around the country.


I’ve included an image of some nude studies for the folks in Greenvillle, SC, so they can get a chance to see one of the art world’s classic subjects – people who are not wearing anything. You’ll have to search very hard to find any nudes in that city. Some museums there paint over certain parts of classic nude works.

Good thing there are a lot of reflections from the glass

The atrium at Vista Studios is showcasing a collaborative installation by fiber artist Susan Lenz and graffiti artist Michael Krajewski. Again, this trip was about seeing works by some of Columbia’s best female artists. I’m not much into graffiti of any kind, and although I’m old enough to have seen many a cave drawing – it’s just not my cup of tea. Like the great break-up line – It’s not you – it’s me.

The installation by Susan Lenz is a wonder to behold – hard to photograph and hard to describe – you just have to see it for yourself. And to do that you’re going to have to hurry, as it is scheduled to come down Sept. 30, 2014 or the day after. Lenz has been making fantastic art out of collected materials for years now – where she got all that thread is mind boggling.


I asked her if some the baskets had false bottoms and she said no. This is the second version of this piece, and I hope we see it again somewhere, but I imagine storage is a problem. Perhaps some company involved in fabric will purchase it for their lobby.


One of the great things about the work is that Lenz designed it so people could walk through it and get up close and personal with the work. That way you can discover all the different color combinations and how the light hits it in different spots to make highlights that catch your eye.


And, do make sure they have the lights on when you go see it. When I first got there I checked out Tish Lowe’s works first, then ran into Susan Lenz and started talking with her about the installation. I keep saying that things didn’t look the same as photos I’ve seen on Facebook and about 15 minutes into our conversation she realized that the lights were not on yet in the atrium. And, pop – there it was – the sparkling piece I’d seen pictures of. That’s what happens when you get talking – details get left out.

So quick run and go see this exhibit.

The City Art Gallery in Columbia’s Vista area is presenting “The Art of Kirkland Smith”, on view through Oct. 11, 2014. Smith is a classical painter who began creating contemporary assemblages using post-consumer materials as an evocative way to drive home the message of the importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling. The only classic thing here will be toys you haven’t seen in years because you chucked yours in the trash.


Smith’s assemblages have become a familiar item in SC’s art scene. Her work of Steve Jobs won the first People’s Choice Award at the first ArtFields® event in Lake City, SC, and some of her works are on view at the SC State Museum in Columbia in the exhibit, “Building a Universe,” on view through Mar. 16, 2015, which features creations by artists whose work deals with space and the universe, either directly or conceptually.

“The Tree of Life”

When you get up close to Smith’s works, you’re amazed at the items that make the work – items we all know from daily life or our childhood. I’ve included a self-portrait of Smith and then a close up of one of her eyes. It’s a heck of a way to “paint”, but she pulls it off very well. Once you realize that the items only have to represent a certain “color” you get how it works, but when you see the objects used – it really makes you think. Like a little green Army soldier holding a bazooka – making up part of an eye. That’s strange.

A self-portrait

Just the eye – close up

And, the point is – all these items are better off in a work of art than filling our landfills. These plastics will never go away in our lifetime.

An abstract work by Kathy Casey

Of course when I’m at City Art Gallery there is always much more to look at upstairs and downstairs besides the main exhibit. Here’s a work I would have liked to take home with me. But, alas I’m just a poor editor/publisher of an arts newspaper. Look – don’t touch – don’t buy.

The Goodall Gallery in the Spears Music/Art Center, at Columbia College, in Columbia is presenting “The Big Paint: New Works by Eileen Blyth and Laura Spong,” on view through Oct. 13, 2014. These are BIG, wonderful, abstract paintings.

“The Big Red” by Laura Spong – a little washed out

Detail of The Big Red – again a little washed out

This is the show that had me itching to get to Columbia. BIG abstract paintings by two of my favorite abstract painters in Columbia. And, I wasn’t disappointed. Just sitting in a pretty good sized exhibit space looking at works that were as big as 8 ft. x 16 ft. made me feel like I was a Texan – where everything is BIG. I mean it’s not often you see an exhibit where there are only six works and they fill the space. The smallest work in the exhibit is big – for normal paintings, but then we have Big paintings and Jumbo paintings.

“First Black Line” by Eileen Blyth

Detail of “First Black Line” – close up

When works are this big it’s not only good to enjoy the size itself, but to explore the details of different sections of the work – up close – like you would look at a normal painting. I could have cut sections of these works out and been happy to have a wonderful single work.

A view of all but one painting

A quick grab shot of people to show the scale of the works

My favorite was “The Big Red”, by Laura Spong. I really like seeing red in abstracts, but I also liked the “First Black Line”, by Eileen Blyth for its big open spaces and light shades with hints of strong color. I can only dream of having a home so large that I could have both on display side by side, while I just gazed at them both as I made out my bank deposits from my big Texas oil wells.

If you’re someone who likes abstract paintings – you need to go see this show.

The Richland County Public Library’s Gallery in its main branch on Assembly Street in Columbia is presenting “All the In Between – My Story of Agnes,” by Laurie B. McIntosh. An exhibition of paintings telling the cradle to grave story of a life well lived. It’s on view through Jan. 5, 2015. It’s an interesting tribute from a daughter to a mother. You might have seen these works at the first ArtFields®.


I used to get to see the exhibits at this library space on a regular basis when I was delivering papers, but since I stopped that, I haven’t been hearing about their exhibits to put them in the paper each month. As I was telling some of the artists I met that day during my trip to Columbia – Columbia is not the best at communicating what’s on exhibit there – outside of Columbia.



This show is one of the biggest I’ve seen in that library space by one artist. McIntosh’s exhibit will make you feel like – “Gee, what have I done to honor my mother?”. My mother was a bookkeeper and she wanted me to become an accountant. That didn’t happen, but I think she liked the fact that I chose the arts to do my work. Something very unexpected in my family.


The paintings are simple, but tell the different chapters in McIntosh’s mother’s life. At the very end, she has a work for the date of her mother’s death and then one last work, a few months later when the remaining family members took the ashes of both mother and father to a college campus where the two met and spread them around. Now that’s a storybook ending.

Go see these exhibits, if you hurry you can see them all – they’re not too far apart, three within a few blocks of each other.

City Art Gallery in Columbia, SC, Calls for Ongoing Artist’s Submissions for Gift Gallery

May 9, 2014


Wendyth Wells, the Gallery Director at City Art Gallery in Columbia, SC, would like to begin a new program featuring smaller pieces of art and fine craft in sizes not to exceed 16″ in any direction to be displayed in their newly renamed Gift Gallery.

The work must be presented in a professional manor and submitted by JPEG with title, medium, size and retail price accompanying each image. If the work is selected, a three month Artists Contract will be sent for consideration with the completion returned with the art work and consignment list. The three month agreement allows a continuous rotation of smaller work in the smaller gallery adjacent to the Main Gallery. If the work does not sell (within three months) it must be removed and replaced with others if requested by the Gallery Director.

Current Small Works Gallery

City Art Gallery is excited to be able to hopefully show a wider selection of small “gift sized” art which is always seen by the hundreds of guests attending the many functions such as wedding receptions held in the City Art Gallery space. We will create a new “Gift Gallery” presence on our website to show the work worldwide.

Send submissions to ( For further info visit (

HIGH NOON Saturdays at City Art in Columbia, SC

May 31, 2012

City Art in Columbia, SC, will be offering free arts related presentations lasting an hour or less on Saturdays at HIGH NOON in the main gallery. These events will begin on June 9, 2012, featuring HIGH NOON with the Editors of Jasper Magazine. Cindi Boiter will be reading short fiction from her new book Buttered Biscuits, Ed Madden reading poetry from Prodigal, Mike Miller reading short fiction from Lonesome Pines, and Kristine Hartvigsen reading poetry from To the Wren Nesting.

The next Saturday, June 16, 2012, Esther Melton will be working with  R&F oil pigment sticks to create one of her nature paintings in her new “Landscape Reflections” series.

Do you wonder how to make a good composition, to find the underlying structure in your subject? Do you struggle to keep your painting from turning into mud? On Saturday June 23, 2012, join Mary Bentz Gilkerson when she will be doing a demo painting in oil and giving you 7 steps to help you jumpstart your painting practice.

And to finish the month on June 30, 2012, award winning painter Anne Hightower-Patterson White will offer her expertise to artists during a walk-in critique.

In the coming weeks look for more demos and presentations from area artists and arts professionals and have lunch in the Vista while you are here.

For up to date information, “like” us on Facebook, join our e-mail list or visit our website at (

City Art is located in the Vista at 1224 Lincoln Street, Columbia, SC.

City Art Gallery in Columbia, SC, Offers Fundraiser for the South Carolina Philharmonic – Jan. 13, 2011

January 9, 2011

City Art Gallery in Columbia, SC, will present an preview of, Visual Sonata: An Ensemble of Images in Support of the SC Philharmonic, a sale and display of 30 framed images, a candid photography project documenting SCP musicians.

The South Carolina Philharmonic has teamed up with photographers Barry Wheeler, Heather Rae Bauer, Gordon Humphries and Brian Harmon to document the rehearsals and lives of SCP musicians.

The photography will be available, for purchase, with proceeds benefiting the SCP at its Jan. 15, 2011, “Beethoven & Blue Jeans” Masterworks concert, 7:30pm at the Koger Center for the Arts in Columbia.

For further information call City Art at 803/252-3613 or visit (

City Art Gallery and Fred McElveen in Columbia, SC, Offer Opportunity to Help Local Food Bank – Sept. 26, 2010

September 15, 2010

City Art Gallery in Columbia, SC, will host a collaborative event (Sunday, Sept. 26, 2010, from 2-5pm featuring the sale of photography and collection of food and cash donations for Harvest Hope Food Bank (currently in desperate need of both).

Dr. Fred McElveen is an established Columbia-based physician with a specialty in dermatology, but he is also an award-winning photographer. Though largely self-taught, the artist has studied with Ansel Adams, Cole Weston, Phil Davis, and Alan Ross, among others. Working in black and white, color, and computer-assisted manipulation, McElveen builds upon established practices of American documentary photography and European fine art photography while inventing his own artistic voice.

The City Art sale includes a large variety of McElveen’s images of Columbia such as the Gervais Street Bridge, but his artistic vision transforms these familiar sights into classic and romantic icons of place. The sale will include streetscapes, landscapes, close-ups, and images the photographer captured on his travels. The City Art sale will also feature many computer-enhanced images by the photographer.

McElveen, known well for his work in black & white will have many color pieces also in a vast array of sizes and price points. All attendees will receive a ticket for their Harvest Hope Food Bank Donation that will entitle them to a 10% savings on the photography. In addition, all purchases will be accompanied by a framing coupon for savings of 50% on the molding price.

City Art Gallery is located at 1224 Lincoln St. in the historic Congaree Vista area in Columbia. Gallery hours are Monday-Thursday 10am until 6pm, until 5pm on Fridays and 11am to 3pm.

For more information contact Wendy Wells, Gallery Director, City Art, at 803/252-3613, e-mail ( or visit (